Today we conclude our Give Thanks! devotions and then we will start Advent with our scratch-off Advent 2016 Calendar. Don't forget to pick-up a copy this Sunday, November 27 at RPC.
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Give Thanks! - Mary's Hymn of Praise
Saturday, November 26
Luke 1:26-55 (NRSV)
The Birth of Jesus Foretold
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" The angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God." Then Mary said, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.
Mary Visits Elizabeth
In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord."
Mary's Song of Praise
And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever."
As Christmas approaches, you will almost certainly read or hear the miraculous story of Jesus' birth many times. You are probably quite familiar with the basics of the story: an angel appears to a frightened Mary and announces that she will give birth to the promised Messiah. And of course, we all know about the inn, the shepherds, the wise men, and the other famous details.
But how familiar are you with Mary's song of praise to God? After hearing the angel's incredible announcement - while she was undoubtedly still struggling to understand her role in God's great story - Mary offers up a memorable prayer of thanksgiving and praise.
Things to think about:
- Why do you think Mary's prayer mentions the multi-generational nature of God's grace? What perspective does this add to your prayers, requests, and trials?
- When you experience God's grace, is your first instinct to praise Him?
- Does your "spirit rejoice in God your Savior"? If not, what's preventing you from experiencing that gratitude and joy?